Tennessee Hits New Milestone: 275,000 Uninsured, Struggling Patients Connected to Programs that Provide Medicines for Free, Near

Partnership for Prescription Assistance Marks Five-Year Anniversary and Launch of 'PPA 2.0'

Washington, D.C. (April 14, 2010) –– As the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA) celebrates its fifth anniversary this month, Tennessee has reached an important milestone: 275,000 uninsured and financially struggling patients from around the state have now been helped by the PPA, connecting them to programs that provide medicines for free or nearly free. Since its debut in April 2005, the PPA has helped more than 6.5 million Americans nationwide.

"This achievement in Tennessee is especially important since the state has a high number of uninsured residents," said Billy Tauzin, President and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). Nearly 18 percent of Tennesseans were uninsured in mid-2009, according to the Gallup Organization, and the problem is compounded – as it is in states across the nation – by an unemployment rate that is above 10 percent.

"High rates of chronic disease in the state also make the help provided by PPA all the more essential to Tennesseans in need," said Tauzin.

A recent report from the Milken Institute reveals just how expensive the cost of chronic diseases can be. In 2003, nearly 3.8 million cases of the seven most common chronic medical conditions, including heart disease, stroke and diabetes, were reported in Tennessee. Treatment expenditures and lost productivity in the state for just that one year totaled $31.6 billion.

In an effort to continue to help Americans who are uninsured and struggling, the PPA has launched new online resources designed to expand the program's outreach. "PPA 2.0," an evolution of the nationwide effort sponsored by America's pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, was unveiled today in Indianapolis, IN, during an event celebrating the PPA's five-year anniversary of helping patients obtain access to the medicines they need.

The event featured the PPA's new national spokesman, American TV icon Jerry Mathers, who was joined by likely NFL Hall of Famer and former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis and four-time World Series Champion and legendary New York Yankees and New York Mets slugger Darryl Strawberry.

"Over the past five years, we've been from coast to coast, in all 50 states, helping people who are uninsured and struggling – but our work is not yet done," said Tauzin. "The next generation of PPA employs the latest technology to give our partners, health care providers, patient advocates and patients themselves easier access to the help provided by patient assistance programs."

"PPA 2.0" introduces new online resources that expand community partnerships and enhance PPA's mobile and Internet presence to make it even easier to obtain information about PPA programs. In an effort to reach more people in more places, PPA is launching a new text hotline and smart phone application, in addition to the existing toll-free hotline and Web site, to ensure around-the-clock access to information about the more than 475 programs offered through the PPA. Nearly 200 of the programs are provided by pharmaceutical companies.

Jerry Mathers, who has diabetes, has traveled with the PPA to raise awareness of this devastating chronic disease and the help available through the PPA. Mathers is best known for his portrayal of "The Beaver" in the television classic, "Leave It To Beaver."

Awareness of the PPA is also being raised through a new 60-second television public service announcement featuring Bettis and former New England Patriots star linebacker and patient advocate Tedy Bruschi, who team up to raise awareness of the PPA program.  The PSA has been sent to more than 1,500 commercial television stations, 500 community TV stations and 500 cable systems throughout America.

"As a professional athlete with asthma, I realize how important it is for people battling chronic conditions to take their medication," explained Bettis. "This public service announcement is a great opportunity to share a free, easy and confidential way for people to get help."

Bruschi, who won three Super Bowls with the Patriots, suffered a debilitating stroke in February 2005, but returned to football just eight months later and was honored as the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year. "After my stroke, I was very fortunate to receive tremendous medical care and the medicines I needed," Bruschi said. "But others aren't as lucky. People who are uninsured and in need should pick up the phone or go to PPA's user-friendly Web site."

Patients seeking help with their medicines can call PPA's toll-free number (1-888-4-PPA-NOW) to talk to a trained operator or access the PPA Web site (www.pparx.org). It only takes 10 to 15 minutes to find out if someone may qualify for free or nearly free medications.

Patients who qualify for help from the PPA's participating patient assistance programs have access to more than 2,500 brand-name and generic prescription medicines. In addition, the PPA provides information on more than 10,000 free health care clinics in America and has connected more than 300,000 patients with clinics and health care providers in their communities.

"I've been traveling the country talking about the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, urging people to pick up the phone or log on to the Web site to see if they may qualify for help," said Mathers. "As a patient who must cope every day with the effects of diabetes, I understand only too well the importance of having access to the medicine you need."

More than 1,500 national, state and local partners are working with America's pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies to spread the word about the program. Trained specialists work with doctors, pharmacists, other health care providers and community groups, educating them on the process and use of PPA's easy-to-access Web site and toll-free number.

MEDIA CONTACT: Kaelan Hollon, (202) 835-3460

/PRNewswire-USNewswire -- April 14/

SOURCE Partnership for Prescription Assistance